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Telehealth and virtual tools deliver high-quality care to rural Veterans

More than 4.4 million Veterans in the United States reside in rural areas. That is almost one-quarter of the nation’s Veteran population.

Veterans in rural areas often face unique health care challenges not shared by their suburban and urban counterparts. Rural communities tend to have longer travel times to medical centers, fewer local specialists and limited access to broadband internet.

VA is working to address these disparities and expand access to care in rural communities. VA’s Office of Connected Care helps Veterans in rural areas receive care through telehealth and other virtual tools.

Convenient, high-quality virtual care

VA offers innovative technologies to help Veterans overcome barriers to care. In fiscal 2023, about 40% of Veterans who used VA health care received some of their care through telehealth.

VA Video Connect is VA’s secure videoconferencing app for video telehealth appointments. Veterans can meet with their VA providers using almost any smartphone, tablet or computer with an internet connection. Veterans can also invite caregivers or family members to join their video visit. VA Video Connect enables Veterans to virtually connect with specialists and providers near and far without having to travel to an in-person appointment.

Remote Patient Monitoring – Home Telehealth provides Veterans with devices to measure their vital signs at home. Veterans can then upload and share the vital sign data with their VA care team. The care team then remotely monitors the health information to identify potential medical problems.

My HealtheVet is VA’s online patient portal that enables Veterans to manage their VA care. Veterans can exchange secure messages with their providers, request refills for their prescriptions, manage their appointments and more.

The VA App Store hosts more than 50 mobile apps that connect Veterans with their VA care team and enable them to manage medical conditions. Annie is VA’s automated text messaging system that sends Veterans reminders to take their medications, instructions for upcoming appointments and more. The PTSD Coach app provides tools for managing and tracking PTSD symptoms.

Bridging the Digital Divide

For Veterans with limited internet connectivity or without a telehealth-capable device, VA telehealth services might not seem like an option. But VA is working to bridge the digital divide and ensure that all Veterans have the technology and internet connection they need to access their VA care through telehealth.

The Digital Divide Consult lends internet-connected tablets to Veterans, with 115,000 4G tablets currently deployed to Veterans. These tablets connect Veterans with their VA care team and enable them to join virtual appointments through VA Video Connect.

ATLAS (Accessing Telehealth through Local Area Stations) locations offer private, comfortable spaces equipped with internet access and the technology Veterans need to meet with their VA provider through VA Video Connect.

Trusted Care: Anytime, anywhere

VA telehealth expands care beyond traditional office visits, allowing Veterans to access care from anywhere in the country. In fiscal 2023, more than 770,000 Veterans living in rural communities participated in over 2.9 million telehealth episodes of care.

As one of the  nation’s largest providers of telehealth services, VA delivers high-quality clinical care directly to Veterans where and when they need it. Addressing the unique needs and health challenges of Veterans living in rural areas remains a top priority for VA. To learn more about VA virtual care options, visit the Office of Connected Care website.

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